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Vision Problems Can Rob Movie-Goers of 3-D
Date:9/22/2010

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- As people crowd into theaters for the latest wave of 3-D movies, everyone seems to be oohing and ahhing over the visual feast provided by Hollywood's improved 3-D technology.

Well, almost everyone.

"There will be at least one person in the crowd who says, 'What are you talking about? I didn't see anything flying out at me.' Or maybe they will say, 'That movie actually made me a little nauseated,'" said Dr. Dominick Maino, a professor at the Illinois College of Optometry and the Illinois Eye Institute.

From 3 million to 9 million people in the United States have vision problems that keep them from enjoying such 3-D movies as Avatar and Toy Story 3, estimates the American Optometric Association. And as many as 56 percent of people between 18 and 38 years of age suffer from symptoms related to depth-perception problems.

These problems have to do with binocular vision, the ability to align both eyes on a target and combine the visual images from the two eyes into a single, three-dimensional perception.

"We have 3-D because we have two eyes in our head in slightly different places," Maino explained. "When the brain puts two images together, that's when we get the 3-D effect."

"3-D is really our ability to judge distances," he said. "It's a real nice survival trait, so we could tell how far away that saber-toothed tiger is and have him for lunch rather than the other way around."

Movies done in 3-D recreate this effect by feeding different images into each eye, Maino said. In the early days, 3-D glasses would have one red lens and one blue lens, and there would be one red image and one blue image on the screen separated by a little distance. One eye would be able to see only the red and the other only the blue, and the brain would fit them together to form an in-depth perception.

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